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Krakow

Stag & Hen Destination

There are two very distinct faces to Krakow, at least as far as stags and hens are concerned: the historic city renowned for its medieval and renaissance architecture; and the vibrant city with a young demographic, known for its cheap beer and love of meaty sausages, take that how you will. Both can be enjoyed by well-informed stags and hens, which, as you are reading this, means you.

You’d be foolish if you went on a stag or hen break to such a lovely old city not to take in some of the sights: head for the Old Town, where you’ll find the Platy park bordering this area of characterful old buildings, not least in the vast Main Market Square. There a 10th century church and a fantastic 16th century cloth hall are just two of the highlights, and not far away is the old royal castle of Wawal. It’s not for nothing that Krakow was made a UNESCO World Heritage site as far back as 1978, nor that the city was made European capital of culture in 2000.

And then there is the other side of Poland’s second city (in fact for half a millennium Poland’s capital), with about 170,000 students among its population of about 750,000. You may come across some of those students as guides and organisers if you – as we’d always recommend – employ the services of a specialist company to make your life easier. Likewise if you hit the bars – there are said to be 400+ in the city – there could be some of them serving, and students being students it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that others may be enjoying a glass of the excellent Polish beer there too. And even, should your trip take in some of the more contemporary culture – strip club, lap or pole dancing, wrestling in oil – that the artistes could be paying their way through university.

On the subject of alcohol – one not entirely alien to the concept of the stag and hen do – there are a couple of local specialties that you may care to try (but try to take care – the first is rocket fuel, the second may lull you into over-indulgence with its sublime flavour): Polish Pure Spirit is the stuff that NASA must have considered using at some time. These days most is likely to be around 80 per cent ABV, but you can find versions as high as 96 per cent. Be warned – though it is hard not to notice the strength of something that thrown down the throat feels like an explosion in your chest. The subtler stuff is Wishniowka (pronounced Vish-nufka), vodka flavoured deliciously with cherry.

Just about all the daytime activities you’d expect to be available are: if you feel the need for speed there are both karting and quads on offer. For the same adrenaline rush, with the prospect of a wetting to ease any intra-group tension, how about kayaking or some pretty hairy white-water rafting? Take it down a notch ladies – and gents, why not – with some horse-riding in the countryside, or in the colder months (summer tends to be pretty sunny btw) ratchet things up again with wintersports. Or turn the adrenaline off entirely with all the pampering and spa stuff you could desire.

On the ballistic side along with the traditional paintball (grooms and brides, pad your important places!) you may be tempted to try an AK47, or an Uzi, on a shooting range here.
And for something with a rather Polish polish to it, maybe a party tram, or dinner in a local brewery, or a traditional meaty Polish feast in a restaurant will suit you. A meal with your mates is surely one of the highlights of any stag or hen do, and the options in a very international city go well beyond the Polish – Italian, steakhouse, and some spicier possibilities.

Then there are the nightclubs, which pack in local talent as well as the visitors from around the world who flock to Krakow – no shortage of stags and hens either, though it is not likely to overflow with them unlike some venues. Unless you know the city somehow, again it makes sense to use a firm with local knowledge to point you towards the best places, and to sort out VIP passes and queue-jumps.

Krakow is a beautiful city that with a bit of care (and dare we say it, a little common sense) will provide magical memories of that last sip of freedom, and with plenty of flights from the UK and reasonable prices in the city it shouldn’t break the bank either. Enjoy.